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COMMONWEALTH EX REL. LIGHT v. CAVELL (06/24/66)

decided: June 24, 1966.

COMMONWEALTH EX REL. LIGHT, APPELLANT,
v.
CAVELL



Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Adams County, Feb. T., 1965, No. 272, in case of Commonwealth ex rel. Francis N. Light v. A. C. Cavell, Superintendent.

COUNSEL

Francis N. Light, appellant, in propria persona.

Gerald R. Walmer, District Attorney, for appellee.

Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Roberts. Mr. Justice Jones and Mr. Justice Eagen dissent. Mr. Justice Cohen took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Roberts

[ 422 Pa. Page 216]

On September 10, 1958, appellant, while represented by court appointed counsel, was convicted by jury of murder in the second degree and sentenced to a term

[ 422 Pa. Page 217]

    of imprisonment of 10 to 20 years. No post trial motions were filed and no appeal taken.

On January 14, 1965, the present petition for writ of habeas corpus was filed in the court below. Counsel was appointed and a hearing held on the petition. The court thereafter entered an order of denial, and this appeal followed.

Appellant raises numerous contentions in his petition and on his appeal from its denial. However, in light of our disposition, we deem it necessary to consider but one.

Appellant contends that court appointed counsel failed to appeal from the judgment of conviction or sentence, and that he was therefore deprived of his constitutional right to the assistance of counsel on appeal as set forth in the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in Douglas v. California, 372 U.S. 353, 83 S. Ct. 814 (1963), and the decisions of this Court in Commonwealth ex rel. Cunningham v. Maroney, 421 Pa. 157, 218 A.2d 811 (1966); Commonwealth ex rel. Branam v. Myers, 420 Pa. 77, 216 A.2d 89 (1966); Commonwealth ex rel. Robinson v. Myers, 420 Pa. 72, 215 A.2d 637 (1966); and Commonwealth ex rel. Stevens v. Myers, 419 Pa. 1, 213 A.2d 613 (1965).

In Douglas v. California, supra, it was held that an indigent defendant is constitutionally entitled to the assistance of counsel on an appeal as of right. Since that decision, this Court has held that a necessary incident of that right is the assistance of counsel in the task of taking and perfecting such an appeal. Commonwealth ex rel. Cunningham v. Maroney, supra; Commonwealth ex rel. Branam v. ...


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